The problem with The Lean StartUp

Let me begin by saying I really like the Lean StartUp method described by Eric Ries. It’s a great blueprint for entrepreneurs who have been thinking about launching their new business idea. It speaks to one of the big challenge for any small business: how to lower the chance of spending money on a bad idea.

There are a ton of great resources available for people who want to work from home or A/B test a landing page to see if people will buy your product or service.

The problem is: organizing all these resources and making the most of them is not easy.

I have several friends who own or manage a startup business, and even with a team working for them, trying to organize all the accounts effectively is a full time job. Every idea requires setting up several accounts and then tying them together, just to test one concept.

For example, even a simple MVP often requires setting up a dedicated email, buying a domain name, tying that domain name to your A/B test platform, identifying market trends using Google AdWords, generating content to drive traffic, and then providing some mechanism to accept payment.

Each one of these steps can take a few hours, depending on your level of familiarity.

To learn it all from scratch is the big challenge. For most people, it takes a year or more of trial & error to become proficient in the use of some of the more advanced tools, like Google Analytics, AdWords, Twitter, HootSuite, GoDaddy, MailChimp, and WordPress.

The important component of all of these being: How do I interpret the results?

The critical measure of success is whether an average person can interpret what they have developed effectively. And to do this, it takes more than just using The Lean StartUp book as a guide.

And what isn’t included in the book is what to do with your idea once you’ve validated it. Things like how to get a Small Business Loan, how to find a good Software Developer to build what you’ve validated, and where to pitch your idea to an Angel Investor.

Again, I think The Lean StartUp is great. But I think it most entrepreneurs who want to test and build their good idea need more than just a guide. They need a team to help them build these tools, measure the results, and then provide support to find the right resources if the idea looks like a winner. 

Is Your Idea Worth a Million Dollars?

If you’re like most people, you’ve wanted to start your own business and work from home. Entrepreneurs are everywhere, but many people don’t know where to start. To make money online takes more than just having a million dollar business idea. It means knowing how to develop a business plan and testing your new business idea.

One really simple method has been described by Eric Ries in his book “The Lean Startup.” Most entrepreneurs have heard about or read this book. But there is a big difference between understanding the method and actually applying it.

Do you feel confident that you can test your Million Dollar Business idea well enough to make a decision to invest in it?
Here are some resources that I have found are very helpful. If you need more help, click the link at the bottom of the post.

 

Where to begin

The first thing you’ll want to do is create accounts for your business idea. Before even worrying about a small business loan or figuring out what equity is, you need to establish your online presence in a way that potential customers can easily find you. The first place I recommend going is gmail.

You can use your gmail account to setup all your other accounts, like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, StumbleUpon, etc. Gmail is the Lord of the Rings account… one to rule them all.

Once you set up these accounts, you’ll want to get some enabling tools like HootSuite or Qwaya  that allow you to manage your communications from one dashboard.

 

I have my accounts … now what?

Now you need to set up a test for your idea. Specifically, you need to measure the acceptance of your idea amongst your target customers.

There are three challenges associated with this:

  1. Identifying your target customers and finding the best way to communicate with them
  2. Creating a message they will respond to
  3. Measuring these responses in a way that will allow you to make a decision about the value of your idea

You don’t need an MBA from Harvard to do this, but the process does take time and practice. In essence, this is marketing 101, and it’s an art. People spend a lot of money trying to figure out how to reach their customers with a message they will respond to, so doing it in this test environment takes iteration.

Sometimes just sending out a survey is enough. If you do that, use services like ConstantContact or GetResponse since they will provide a lot of data on your response rates. You’ll need to find a relevant email list… which is no small thing.

If you want to build and test a landing page, then measuring content becomes more challenging. Most customer expect a certain level of design for websites. The nice thing is that services like UnBounce and LeadPages make it easy to build pretty good-looking websites at only around $50 per month for a subscription. You can also use WordPress.

The main point is: all of these allow you to measure the content you post. By reviewing the number of visitors, bounce rates, demographics, etc … you will be able to adjust your messaging to refine how you target your customers. If the number of potential customers looks big enough, then you can assume you idea is validated.

 

I’ve identified potential customers … now what?

Now comes the fun part. A business, by definition, is something that collects money for a product or service. You’re going to have to engage with these potential customers and sell them on your service. There are several ways to accept payment, but the most common is PayPal. Setup a PayPal account, tie it to your website or email marketing campaign, and away you go.

Some other aspects you may need to consider are deciding equity amongst partners, setting up a small business loan or small business bank account, and getting legal assistance to write up contracts.

 

Does this sound complicated?

It can be.

Thankfully, there are services that help you set-up and manage all these accounts. If you want to test your million dollar idea as a business, you can use VentureVerify to help you through this whole process. They do everything from establishing all your accounts to connecting you with software developers, if the idea is something you want to grow.

I hope this helps all the entrepreneurs out there.